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Blog Category: Highlights

January 8, 2014

In the news: polar vortex

Byron Company | Madison Square |1896 | Museum of the City of New York | mcny.org

Byron Company | Madison Square |1896 | Museum of the City of New York | mcny.org

In an unusual event, temperatures dropped below freezing in all 50 states Tuesday after a polar vortex swept southwards. As NBC New York explains, “The polar vortex forms every year to the north, but large blocks of high pressure over Greenland and the Southwest weakened the jet stream in recent days, allowing part of the polar vortex to break off from a parent system and dip in to the US.”

While the worst of it is over, we highly recommend you stay indoors and just look at winter images:

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January 2, 2014

Add color to your winter with the Brooklyn Museum Costumes collection

Unknown, British | Gloves (Gauntlet Gloves) | 1690-1710 | Image and original data from the Brooklyn Museum | Image ©The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unknown, British | Gloves (Gauntlet Gloves) | 1690-1710 | Image and original data from the Brooklyn Museum | Image ©The Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Ayesha Akhtar, User Services Assistant

What winter in the Northeast means for most is being able to get away with wearing black and gray, staying home in lieu of going out for fear of catching a cold, and wearing a troublesome amount of layers. But for me, grey winter skies provide the perfect backdrop for vibrant colors, I indulge in winter walks on snowy evenings, and layers mean ample opportunity to show off my keen fashion sense. After all, more clothes equal more fun. However, after festivities end the trend is a downward slope into a lackluster bowl of winter blues— and this decline of spirit reflects itself in one’s wardrobe.

This winter, with inspiration from the plethora of fashion images in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Brooklyn Museum Costumes collection in the Artstor Digital Library, it’s easier to fight the urge to blend in with the seasonal black and gray.

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November 13, 2013

Michelangelo’s Last Judgment—uncensored

Some of the more controversial nudity in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment was painted over the year after the artist’s death. Those additions were left intact when the Last Judgment was restored in the 1990s, but thanks to a farsighted cardinal we can see what the fresco looked like before it was censored.

Left: Michelangelo Buonarroti | Last Judgment | 1534-41 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican. Right: Marcello Venusti | Last Judgment | Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte | Images and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Left: Michelangelo Buonarroti | Last Judgment | 1534-41 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican. Right: Marcello Venusti | Last Judgment | Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte | Images and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

The Last Judgment was commissioned for the Sistine Chapel by Pope Clement VII just a few days before his death. Michelangelo hadn’t even finished the fresco before controversy erupted over its unclothed figures.

Not long after the painting’s completion, the Council of Trent condemned nudity in religious art, decreeing that “all lasciviousness be avoided; in such wise that figures shall not be painted or adorned with a beauty exciting to lust.” Clement’s successor Pope Pius IV complied with the tenet, and in 1565, the year after Michelangelo’s death, had the more controversial nudity painted over by Daniele da Volterra, earning the artist the nickname Il Braghetonne, “the breeches-maker.” Da Volterra also substantially repainted the figures of Saint Catherine and Saint Blaise, whose positions were considered unseemly. Further coverings were added in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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October 17, 2013

Send in the clowns

Strobridge Lithograph | Barnum & Bailey: 1000 Skits By 50 Original Clowns | 1916 | The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the State Art Museum of Florida, a division of Florida State University

Strobridge Lithograph | Barnum & Bailey: 1000 Skits By 50 Original Clowns | 1916 | The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the State Art Museum of Florida, a division of Florida State University | RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY™ image courtesy of Feld Entertainment, Inc. RINGLING BROS.® and THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH® are owned and used by permission of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, Inc.

In the Journal of American Folklore, Lucile Hoerr Charles asks a question that doubles as a survey of clowns throughout the world: “What has the stage buffoon of the Chinese in common with the court fool of the Middle Ages in Europe; and with the stage fool in Elizabethan England, magnificently represented in Falstaff; and with the Badin in France, origin of our term badinage; and with the Spanish Bobo or Booby? How does the Narr and Hanswurst in Germany differ from the comic Vidusaka, stock character of the Hindu drama; or from the early Greek clowns depicted on Corinthian vases; or from the ancient Egyptian god Typhon, probably a deified clown, with his heavy, coarse face and protrusive tongue?”

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October 16, 2013

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s “New Forms of 36 Ghosts”

Left: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi | New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts: Sadanobu Threatening a Demon in the Palace at Night | 1889. Right: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi | New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts: The Ferocity of Tametomo Driving Away the Smallpox Demons | 1890.  Scripps College: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery

Left: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi | New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts: Sadanobu Threatening a Demon in the Palace at Night | 1889. Right: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi | New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts: The Ferocity of Tametomo Driving Away the Smallpox Demons | 1890. Scripps College: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery | Contact information: Kirk Delman, Registrar, 1030 Columbia Ave, Claremont, CA 91711, Tel: 909-607-3397, Fax: 909-607-4691, kdelman@scrippscollege.edu

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi is widely recognized as the last great master of Ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world,” the main genre of Japanese woodblock printing (and a major source of inspiration for many modernist artists from Europe).

In his last series, New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts, the artist depicts a variety of spirits and magic animals from Japanese folk tales and history. As opposed to the morbidly graphic work that originally brought him fame, horror is mostly suggested in these works. Can you spot the subtle supernatural event in the print below?

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September 27, 2013

The Blessing of the Animals: An Artstor Bestiary

Giotto | Saint Francis Preaching to the Birds, predella of Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmatta | c. 1295-1300 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y. ; artres.com

Giotto | Saint Francis Preaching to the Birds, predella of Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmatta | c. 1295-1300 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y. ; artres.com

October 4 is generally recognized as the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of the animals, steward of nature, and author of the Canticle of the Creatures.  In a divinely ordained cosmos, Francis considered all elements – sun, moon, and stars, water and fire, and the animals – our sisters and brothers, and he is often depicted and described preaching to the birds, as in Giotto’s panel shown here, 1295-1300.  The cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York famously marks his feast day with the blessing of the animals.  Thousands of creatures, from tortoises to camels, process though the nave, gather in the yard, and are blessed by clergy.  This scene is replayed throughout churches around the globe, a celebration of the beasts that surround us and enhance our lives.

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July 18, 2013

Art in context: installation photography

Rollie McKenna, photographer | Installing the exhibition, "The Graphic Work of Edvard Munch." | February 6, 1957 through March 3, 1957 | Photographic Archive; The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York | © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Bono, Oslo

Rollie McKenna, photographer | Installing the exhibition, “The Graphic Work of Edvard Munch.” | February 6, 1957 through March 3, 1957 | Photographic Archive; The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York | © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Bono, Oslo

If you read a review or article about an interesting museum exhibition you missed you can usually find images of the featured artworks. But have you ever wondered how the works were presented, where they were placed? Which pieces were shown together, and in what order? You’re not alone – exhibition design is central in museology, also known as museum studies, which asks how to present exhibitions that engage and enlighten the viewer. It’s also of interest to curators, art historians, and even artists, who often want to see what effect context has on artworks.

The Artstor Digital Library has tens of thousands of exhibition documentation images ranging from the late 19th century to the present from major American institutions. Some of the photographs, as you can see in this post, even show the artworks being installed. Dig into the collections listed below to find many more gems.

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July 1, 2013

When It Rains

Bergdorf Goodman | Umbrella;  1974 | Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art | Original data from the Brooklyn Museum

Bergdorf Goodman | Umbrella; 1974 | Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art | Original data from the Brooklyn Museum

Lately in New York (and plenty of other places too), it seems to rain more often than not, and we would be lost without our umbrellas and our rain boots. On June 7, the first tropical storm of this season—whose lilting name Andrea belied her punch—dumped four inches of rain on the city, doubling the record for that day in 1918. Mayor Bloomberg is calling for billions of dollars to shore us up against future events like Andrea, or worse, Sandy.

While we acknowledge the hard truth of climate change, we invite you to pause, take shelter, and consider the upside of rain.

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June 14, 2013

Happy Father’s Day from Artstor

Anthony van Dyck | Portrait of a father with his son, also called Portrait of Guillaume Richardot and his son; 1618-1619 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.; artres.com

Anthony van Dyck | Portrait of a father with his son, also called Portrait of Guillaume Richardot and his son; 1618-1619 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.; artres.com

Happy Father’s Day! Every year on the third Sunday of June we celebrate our dads – whether or not they’re as stylish as the one in this portrait by Anthony van Dyke in the Musée du Louvre, courtesy of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux.

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May 13, 2013

Fashion from the Great Gatsby’s roaring twenties

Left: Jeanne Lanvin | Ensemble, Evening; Summer 1923. Right: Jeanne Lanvin | Suit, Evening (Tuxedo); 1927. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Left: Jeanne Lanvin | Ensemble, Evening; Summer 1923. Right: Jeanne Lanvin | Suit, Evening (Tuxedo); 1927. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“I noticed that she wore her evening dress, all her dresses, like sports clothes—there was a jauntiness about her movements as if she had first learned to walk upon a golf course on clean, crisp, mornings.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The recent movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby has turned the spotlight on the fashion and styles of the Roaring Twenties. So what made the twenties roar?

The economic boom was decisive. Soldiers came home from World War I to jobs in manufacturing plants ready to turn from war production to consumer goods; with the flourishing economy, many commodities became affordable for the first time. Another key engine for progress was the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. It was signed into law in 1920, heralding unprecedented liberation. The twenties were also a pivotal time for mass communication: radio, cinema, and the automobile sped up the distribution of information—and trends.

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